Obituary: Professor Richard Pear

RICHARD PEAR was the first professor of politics at Nottingham University when he was appointed in 1965.

His chair was one of the results of the Robbins expansion of higher education in the early 1960s. Nottingham University had slowly evolved from the University College of 1881, where D.H. Lawrence had studied before the Great War, to full university status in 1948. It was one of the smaller universities and was regarded as a conservative campus despite having had the future Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell, and others like him, on the staff in the 1920s.

In the early 1960s its second transformation got under way and, in keeping with the spirit of the times, the social sciences expanded and stylish modernist buildings were erected. The formidable Fred Dainton took over as vice-chancellor. The future Lord Hollick graduated in Sociology and the TUC's John Monks in Economic History.

However, the balance remained weighted towards its excellent traditional disciplines like adult education, agriculture, pure and applied science, engineering, languages and law. A new medical faculty soaked up the funds at a time when relatively less and less money was available for higher education.

Dick Pear battled in these circumstances at the head of a team of only five, which had to produce quality rather than quantity. He was successful in that graduates with Nottingham Politics degrees climbed the ladder in many fields. Pear was particularly proud to hear that a number of his students (among them Daria Taylor and Kelvin Hopkins) had been elected to Parliament in May 1997.

Although most of the annual intake were normal A level candidates, Pear was sympathetic to "mature" students without formal qualifications. When he retired in 1981 his team had expanded to six and the number of graduates had increased from nine in 1966 to 20 plus by the end of the 1970s. Many other students took courses in Politics.

Pear was born in Manchester in 1916, the son of one of Britain's first professors of psychology, Thomas Hatherley Pear. His mother, Catherine, was active in good causes and had a special interest in working-class housing. Dick Pear attended Hume Grammar School, where he was good academically and as a sportsman. He excelled at rugby and cricket.

As a youngster in Manchester he became politicised. He witnessed poverty in the midst of plenty, the clashes between the Mosley's Blackshirts and anti-Fascist activists. As with many others of his generation he swung to the left seeing the Soviet Union as the bulwark against Fascism.

From Manchester he embarked upon a Politics degree at the London School of Economics in 1935. Here he came under the influence of Harold Laski, Richard Tawney and other democratic socialists. After graduation in 1938 he took up a Darwin research fellowship of the Eugenics Society, followed by a Commonwealth Fund Fellowship at the University of Chicago, in 1939- 41. He served briefly with the British Information Services in New York. His wife, Evelyn, also an LSE graduate, whom he had met at a Peace Camp in Ludlow, Shropshire, in 1936, worked in the codes and cipher department of the British Consul General.

Anxious to get into the fight against the Nazis, he returned to Britain and was sent to Sandhurst. On graduation he was assigned to the Armoured Corps but spent most of his military service in the relative calm of Kenya. He was demobilised with the rank of staff captain.

In 1947 Pear returned to the LSE as Assistant Lecturer in Government, advancing to a full lectureship a short time later. In 1959 he was promoted to Reader. His main area of expertise was American government and politics and he published his American Government: its theory and practice explained for the English reader in 1955. This was well received and a second edition appeared in 1963. He also contributed to other works on American politics.

He loved the United States but it was the America of the New Deal, Studs Terkel, Henry Fonda, Scott Fitzgerald, Adlai Stevenson and The Graduate, not that of the House of Un-American Affairs Committee, Nixon or Reagan. He was a popular lecturer, a handsome figure who took great care over his appearance. He was kind to his students and tried to help where possible. He was more interested in teaching than in research. At Nottingham he ran his department on an informal, gentlemanly basis. Though he welcomed Nottingham's more recent achievements he would not have fitted in too well with the aggressive managerialism prevalent in contemporary higher education.

Pear's How People Vote (1956) was about the British electorate. For some time he was a member of the Labour Party and there was talk of embarking on a parliamentary career. But he was too open-minded and independent to be a party man. Nor was he combative enough for the rough and tumble of politics. In any case, as a strong family man, he came to the conclusion that the life of an MP would not have suited him. Nevertheless, he remained a committed socialist and a dedicated secularist to the end.

Richard Hatherley Pear, political scientist: born Manchester 10 March 1916; Assistant Lecturer in Government, London School of Economics 1945- 47, Lecturer 1947-59, Reader 1959-65; Professor of Politics, Nottingham University 1965-81; married Evelyn Canning (one son, one daughter); died Nottingham 17 February 1998.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission, Benefits, OTE £100k: SThree: ...

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you a recent graduate loo...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine